Thursday, April 20, 2017

By Mikaela Parrick

More than 200 elementary school students recently had a chance for hands-on STEM learning opportunities on the University of Iowa campus.


Fourth- and fifth-grade students from Hoover Elementary and Penn Elementary in Iowa City visited the Lindquist Center, the Blank Honors Center, and the Seamans Center on Monday, April 17, and Wednesday, April 19, to explore STEM at the University of Iowa.


The event was spearheaded by the UI College of Education Baker Teacher Leader Center in collaboration with the Belin-Blank Center, the College of Engineering, and the UI Department of Computer Science.


At the Lindquist Center, Jacob Heiden from the National Advanced Driving Simulator (NADS) gave students a chance to use virtual reality to experience different driving conditions and record what they observed.


Denise Szecsei, a faculty member in Mathematics and Computer Science, headed the “Robot Theatre” activity at the Blank Honors Center, where students developed pitches for different products that robots could make in a “Shark Tank”-like event where their ideas were then judged by the robots.


At the Seamans Center, students had the opportunity to design, build and fly paper airplanes using basic engineering skills with the help of Tracy Peterson from the College of Engineering.


Mark McDermott, STEM Coordinator at the College of Education, says he wanted to bring students out of the classroom to get them engaged in hands-on learning.


“The teachers at the schools had approached us about trying to develop a STEM field trip for their students in which their students could see some of the different types of STEM activities that go on across campus,” he says.


At the end of the day, students said their favorite part of the field trip was the robots, and that they would definitely like to come back to campus one day.